Oldest Track On The Network

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RichmondCommu

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Any ideas? I'm guessing that it would have to be a lightly used branch line outside of the SE which never saw anything else other than DMU's. I'm thinking perhaps the Colne branch although a Pacer and old jointed track can't be much fun!
 
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E&W Lucas

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Any ideas? I'm guessing that it would have to be a lightly used branch line outside of the SE which never saw anything else other than DMU's. I'm thinking perhaps the Colne branch although a Pacer and old jointed track can't be much fun!
It's not hjard to find some seriously ancient infrastructure in sidings. Pre - Nationalisation dated chairs are commonplace. The oldest I can remember seeing was at Glaisdale, which was 1890 something.
 

DarloRich

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It's not hjard to find some seriously ancient infrastructure in sidings. Pre - Nationalisation dated chairs are commonplace. The oldest I can remember seeing was at Glaisdale, which was 1890 something.
I have come across a few of similar age in sidings. I think we got an even older one at Whitemoor recently. I think it is off to the NRM

The rail is normally stamped or tagged with a birth date. It looks like the rail in Fenny Stratford Station was "born" in 1952
 

ChiefPlanner

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NR used to say there was a set of handpoints in Neath Yard dating to 1911 - I recall some SR / LMS cast iron chairs in Willesden LL bay dating from 1931 (before the track was relaid) ......
 

MK Tom

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Some of the rail chairs on the Oxford-Bletchley line have LNWR written on them (I know this from photographs taken by others!).
 

fgwrich

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Pretty sure ive seen stated somewhere, that untill reccently, the track in Topsham station was the original from when the line & station was built! (Rails are less likely, but certainly the chairs were probably the original)
 

Tommy3000

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I believe the long siding at Herne Hill has fairly old track - it was out of service from the mid-60s until 2009, but the track most likely dates back to the 1924 station rebuild.
 

Ploughman

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As has been said earlier the dates on the chairs are not the date of the rail.
You will need someone with access to GEOGIS to confirm the oldest rails if the record was able to be entered that is. As trying to find a readable date on old rail is just about impossible after more than 50 years.

The oldest rail in daily use by service trains that I am aware of up to about 2 years ago was in Hull Paragon Station. Dating to 1913.
The last couple of lengths up to the buffers on one of the platform roads.
 

DXMachina

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I would be quite nervous if I thought I was riding on Titanic-era rails - the quality of steel back then wasn't anywhere near what it is now

Does the safety case for any individual line take into account rail age and consequent brittleness? Or are the only surviving rails of that era in locations where slow speed is absolutely mandated (ends of terminating platforms, sidings) and a fracture then unlikely to even cause damage?
 

Joseph_Locke

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I would be quite nervous if I thought I was riding on Titanic-era rails - the quality of steel back then wasn't anywhere near what it is now

Does the safety case for any individual line take into account rail age and consequent brittleness? Or are the only surviving rails of that era in locations where slow speed is absolutely mandated (ends of terminating platforms, sidings) and a fracture then unlikely to even cause damage?
It's unlikely you've travelled at any speed over much rail that old, as it is likely to be stuff like 85 pound bullhead and confined to shunt necks and under buffer stops (see below).

There is a pogrom of sorts to remove pre-1974 rail where high speeds / high cant deficiency are concerned, as this was the date (roughly) rail production changed from Ingot to Concast (continuous casting), the former generally producing rail which has higher levels of slag inclusion, gas bubbles, etc.

Length of service isn't really a factor, whereas wheel burns, RCF, chair gall, head wear, piping, side wear and corrosion are more likely to trigger replacement. That said, as tonnages, axle loads and speeds all increase the older, lighter sections no longer have enough strength as a beam to resist the static and dynamic loadings.

The oldest piece of infrastructure I've ever found on GEOGIS was 1923 (but GEOGIS isn't far off guesswork sometimes) and on site was (though it's probably still there) an 85RBS bent-rail buffer stop on 1903 chairs at one end of a loop on the West Coast Main Line.
 

John55

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I would be quite nervous if I thought I was riding on Titanic-era rails - the quality of steel back then wasn't anywhere near what it is now

Does the safety case for any individual line take into account rail age and consequent brittleness? Or are the only surviving rails of that era in locations where slow speed is absolutely mandated (ends of terminating platforms, sidings) and a fracture then unlikely to even cause damage?
I presume you realise that many of the bridges upon which the track is laid are made out of metal and are anything up to 170 years old.

I regularly travel over the Ethelfleda/Britannia Bridge at Runcorn Gap which was built in 1869. It is not made out of steel but wrought iron. Do I fear I am going to drop into the river or canal? No!
 

Trog

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The Up Goods Loop at Tring had a couple of stretches of LNWR material in it until the platform layout was altered in about 2003.

I have also been told that the Platform Loop at Bicester North was never relayed. Same track in use from opening until twin track was restored, on the Chiltern Line.

Back in the 1980's there was a lead into the cement works at Chinnor, that was such old material it had the keys on the inside of the rails, I am only aware of that sort of chair in one other place and that is now out of use.

On the bridge front the access line into Wolverton Works used an original L&B bridge span dating from 1838? to cross the canal until it as replaced by a modern ARP girder bridge in about 1990. The existing bridge was only replaced as it was restricted to shunting locos only, and they wanted to be able to get mainline locos into the works.
 

Tiny Tim

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I presume you realise that many of the bridges upon which the track is laid are made out of metal and are anything up to 170 years old.

I regularly travel over the Ethelfleda/Britannia Bridge at Runcorn Gap which was built in 1869. It is not made out of steel but wrought iron. Do I fear I am going to drop into the river or canal? No!
With a few notable exceptions (Tay Bridge, for starters) the Victorian engineers were very well aware of the limitations of the materials available to them. Designs of bridges changed considerably when steel became available in quantity, but as the early Bessemer steel suffered from consistency problems, a 'belt and braces' approach continued. Thanks to this policy, many large railway structures survive in use despite the unreliable materials used. The longevity of these bridges contrasts sharply with that of more recent civil engineering. Hammersmith Flyover, anyone?)
 

DXMachina

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I presume you realise that many of the bridges upon which the track is laid are made out of metal and are anything up to 170 years old.
I've ridden over and cycled under a WCML Stephenson bridge that's over 170. Doesnt scare me. Bridges are built to last. Rails are more of a passing thing.
 

CarltonA

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Oldest track on the network? Though not in use for many, many years and having no rails there are stone blocks in the trackbed at Simpasture Junction on the Bishop Auckland line which are Stockton & Darlington in origin. These were used instead of sleepers. I'm not absolutely sure they are still there but I saw them a few years back.
 

class26

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I've ridden over and cycled under a WCML Stephenson bridge that's over 170. Doesnt scare me. Bridges are built to last. Rails are more of a passing thing.
Any ideas? I'm guessing that it would have to be a lightly used branch line outside of the SE which never saw anything else other than DMU's. I'm thinking perhaps the Colne branch although a Pacer and old jointed track can't be much fun!
When they relaid some of the track between Boston and Skegness recently some equipment ws found to have been the original. Not sure when it was laid but it was not in the 2oth century !
 

RichmondCommu

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When they relaid some of the track between Boston and Skegness recently some equipment ws found to have been the original. Not sure when it was laid but it was not in the 2oth century !
Blimey, thats crazy when you think that in the past Class 20's, Class 47's and HST's have run over that route! Hopefully it didn't go for scrap and is now sitting in someone's shed!
 

class26

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Blimey, thats crazy when you think that in the past Class 20's, Class 47's and HST's have run over that route! Hopefully it didn't go for scrap and is now sitting in someone's shed!
It was quoted in "Moderrn Railways" that the workers were surprised to discover this !!
 
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Wrought iron does not rust nearly as fast as mild steel.
It has not been produced since the 50's.
Bespoke wrought ironwork (as opposed to bent steel!) makers still use wrought iron. Not cheap to buy either!
Old iron railway bridges are one of the best sources.
 

John55

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Blimey, thats crazy when you think that in the past Class 20's, Class 47's and HST's have run over that route! Hopefully it didn't go for scrap and is now sitting in someone's shed!
How big a shed do you think people have that you expect them to be able to store several miles of rail?

If the track/rail is in good condition why is it crazy to run locos and HSTs over it? After all the diesels (and especially DMUs) are much kinder to the track than the steam locos which ran over it in previous times. Before the track was replaced there were severe restrictions (in the later days) on what rolling stock could use the line and how often as Network Rail were well aware of the age and condition of the track.

I attended a lecture about 10 years ago given by an engineer from either Tube Lines or Metronet and he raised a great deal of astonishment when he said the Bakerloo, Piccadilly and Charing Cross branch of the Northern were about to have the first ever track renewal carried out on the original sections of the lines dating from the early 1900s. When questioned he said the rails had been replaced fairly often but everything else was more or less original. This was possible only because of the unusual atmosphere in the tunnels (i.e. no rain!).
 

Speedbird2639

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Slight cheat as not part of the network since the 1960's (but people have been suggesting sidings which probably haven't been in use since that time as well)

I give the original insitu rails of the Cromford and High Peak Railway 1825!
 

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emoaconr

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When the Cambrian Line was relaid about 2 years ago, it was found a lot of the old bullhead rail there dated to the 19th Century.

Similary the Borderlands Line is in very poor condition in places with ancient chair fittings throughout, however there is a re-laying programme going on at the moment.
 
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